A Little Weight Loss May Ease Sleep Apnea

 A Little Weight Loss May Ease Sleep Apnea 

A small amount of weight loss might help combat sleep apnea, a new study suggests. Finnish researchers said losing as little as 5% of body weight seems to lead to significant improvement in the condition — in which breathing pauses frequently while people are asleep, resulting in disrupted sleep and daytime fatigue. “Being overweight is considered the most important risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea,” said lead researcher Dr. Henri Tuomilehto, an adjunct professor at the University of Eastern Finland’s Oivauni Sleep Clinic, in Kuopio.

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Being moderately overweight increases the risk for obstructive sleep apnea by 10 times, Tuomilehto said. “It has been estimated that around 70% of all patients with obstructive sleep apnea are obese,” he said. “We believe it represents the first-line treatment in the early phases of the disease and has a good chance of curing the disease or at least preventing the progression,” Tuomilehto said.

For the study, his team randomly assigned 57 moderately obese people with mild sleep apnea to a yearlong supervised program of diet and exercise designed to get them to lose weight. Others in the study were given general information on diet and exercise. During four years of follow-up, those who lost at least 5% of their body weight (an average of 11 pounds) saw dramatic improvement in their sleep apnea, the researchers found. Those who maintained their weight loss saw an 80% reduction in progression of their condition, compared to those who didn’t lose weight.

Tuomilehto said many people who suffer from the condition don’t know they have it. “Obstructive sleep apnea is a highly prevalent disease and untreated it is a major burden for our health care systems,” he said. “Unfortunately, 80% to 90% of those with obstructive sleep apnea are undiagnosed and do not know or even suspect that they have it. If daytime performance and vitality is not what you would expect, do not blame your age first,” he said. “Suspect some-thing else, such as obstructive sleep apnea, until proven otherwise.”

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Dr. Harly Greenberg, head of sleep medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY, said obesity is linked to sleep apnea because fatty tissue accumulates around the neck and narrows the airway, making it more susceptible to obstruction during sleep. The consequences of the condition include increased risk for high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke, Greenberg said. In ad-dition, sleep apnea may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Weight loss alone won’t be enough to help everyone with the condition, Greenberg said. “While a weight-loss program is appropriate for overweight sleep apnea patients, it should not be relied upon as the sole therapy for those with moderate to severe sleep apnea who are at risk for cardio-vascular consequences and for patients with any severity of sleep apnea who suffer from daytime sleepiness that adversely affects daytime function,” he said. “Those patients should be treated with therapeutic interventions such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or oral appliances that can produce more immediate improvement in symptoms and relief of daytime sleepiness while waiting for weight loss to occur,” he said.

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Another expert welcomed the new study findings. “It is always wonderful when the take-home message is that so much of our health is under our control,” said Dr. Lisa Liberatore, an otolaryngologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Our approach to treating obstructive sleep apnea is always to address any weight is-sues. We have many examples of when patients lose weight their snoring and apnea reduces significantly,” Liberatore said. “A proactive approach is even better. Telling and showing patients how weight gain—even modest amounts—can and will lead to sleep apnea is a powerful message.”

Although the study showed a connection between weight loss and improved sleep apnea symptoms, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

Source: http://www.healthfinder.gov

 

From Rebecca McGonigle from the May 2014 Wellstyles Newsletter published by Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).

 

WellstylesNewsletter

 

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Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) Controlling Medical Costs

Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) Controlling Medical Costs

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In a world where the healthcare system is changing on a daily basis due to sweeping federal changes under the Affordable Healthcare Act, constantly changing technology and an increasingly sick and aging population, most employers are faced with cutting benefits, eliminating benefits, or seeing astronomically high renewal rates.  Bucking this trend is the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) which was a founding member of Valley Schools over a quarter century ago, which established a purchasing cooperative for school districts to pool their purchasing power to reduce costs.  Starting first with liability insurance, then workers’ compensation, PVUSD moved its healthcare and other employee benefits under the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) nearly ten years ago now, and it has paid dividends.

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Under the trust, PVUSD is able to choose its providers, plans and benefits as an individual district as it always has, while in returning receiving more choices, lower rates and expert consulting from the staff of VSEBT, Aon/Hewitt and Hays Consulting at no additional costs.  This year, starting fiscal year July 1, 2014, PVUSD elected to break out their plan tiering into four tiers from the traditional two tiers which have been in place for several years.  In simpler terms, they went from just single and family, to four levels determining how many are covered under the plan.

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This represented a premium savings for employees who have a spouse or child(ren) only on their plan and only a slight increase for those with more family members.  The district costs are expected to now be a 2.1% reduction from the prior 2013-14 plan year.

Not only are costs going down, but PVUSD was able to expand their preventive drug list for health savings account plan members which means more preventive drugs at a copay prior to meeting their deductible for those on the HDHP plan.  That will provide additional savings to those employees and encourage better health in the long run by making preventive and maintenance drugs more affordable.

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PVUSD also continues to focus on efforts to encourage good consumerism and physician quality, and cost and efficiency.  They implemented the UHC Premium Provider Advantage Plan.  Doctors who are rated both for high quality, satisfaction and efficiency receive two stars in the UHC network directory.  If members choose a Premium Physician, they will have even lower co-pays. This allows the employee to remain in charge of their doctor choices while providing additional options for savings.

Congratulations to PVUSD for its ongoing cutting-edge vision for providing the best quality benefits to its staff and their families while utilizing innovative tools to reduce costs!

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Healthy Inside-Out Easter Eggs

Inside-Out Easter Eggs

These deviled eggs put the color inside the egg, not outside, with the addition of beets to a classically creamy yolk filling. Look for precooked, peeled beets in the produce section.

 

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Ingredients:

8 large eggs

1 medium beet, cooked, peeled and quartered

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

3 TBS chopped fresh chives

16 very small fresh mint leaves or 2 tsp thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

Method

Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover by a few inches with water. Cover and place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, 10 minutes. Drain, cool and peel eggs.

Halve eggs lengthwise. Scoop out yolks and place them in a food processor along with beet, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Process until smooth, stopping frequently to scrape down sides of the bowl. Add chives and pulse until combined. Pipe or spoon the yolk mixture into the egg whites and place them on a plat-ter. Top each with a whole mint leaf or a sprinkling of sliced mint leaves.

Source: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) from the April Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Vegetarian Diet Could Be Used To Lower Blood Pressure

 Vegetarian Diet Could Be Used To Lower Blood Pressure 

Vegetarians seem to have lower blood pressure, according to a new analysis. Could adopting a vegetarian diet be a useful strategy for lowering blood pressure? It is well known that high blood pressure is a major risk facVegetables and Fruits Arrangementtor for heart disease. Controlling blood pressure through lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, is key for avoiding heart problems.

But medical opinion has been split over whether a vegetarian diet is effective for reducing blood pressure. Different studies on how vegetarian diets influence blood pressure have report-ed conflicting results. To clarify the issue, researchers in Osaka, Japan, have performed a meta-analysis of existing studies looking at the relationship between vegetarian diets and blood pressure.

The researchers analyzed the findings of seven clinical trials (looking at 311 participants in total) and 32 observational studies (looking at 21,604 participants in total). In this review, “vegetarian diets” were defined as excluding or rarely including meat, but including dairy products, eggs and fish.

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The meta-analysis found that vegetarian diets are associated with lower blood pressure, com-pared with omnivorous diets. The researchers measured the difference in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)—the unit blood pressure is measured in—between participants who followed a vegetarian diet and participants who followed an omnivorous diet.

In terms of systolic blood pressure (the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats), the researchers found that the blood pressure of vegetarians was 4.8 mm Hg lower overall than omnivores in clinical trials and 6.9 mm Hg lower in observational studies. In terms of diastolic blood pressure (the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats), the researchers found that the blood pressure of those following a vegetarian diet overall was 2.2 mm Hg lower in clinical trials and 4.7 mm Hg lower in observational studies.

This reduction, the researchers say, is similar to the health benefits of a low-sodium diet or a weight reduction of 5 kg. Reducing systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg is also associated with a 9% lower risk of death from coronary heart dis-ease and a 14% lower risk of death from stroke.

The researchers consider a number of reasons why a vegetarian diet may be effective at controlling blood pressure. Vegetarians generally have lower BMIs and a lower risk of obesity than omnivores, probably because vegetarian diets have higher fiber and lower fat content than omnivorous diets. Because body weight and blood pressure are linked, this might partially ex-plain the lowered blood pressure in vegetarians. However, other studies have found that a vegetarian diet lowers blood pressure regardless of body weight.

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Another suggestion is that vegetarian diets are high in potassium and low in sodium, but again, some studies have disagreed over the impact this might have. Some studies have also found that alcohol consumption is lower in vegetarians, com-pared with the general population. Alcohol intake can influence blood pressure, but five of the seven clinical trials analyzed in this study were limited to participants who drank no more than moderate amounts of alcohol. Therefore, the results of this analysis were probably not influenced by alcohol intake.

Vegetarian diets are usually proportionally lower than omnivorous diets in saturated fatty acids and higher in polyunsaturated fatty acids—characteristics that are associated with lower blood pressure. And, finally, vegetarians usually have lower blood viscosity. This could affect their blood pressure.

There are some things the meta-analysis could not be sure about. For example, not all of the studies reviewed took certain factors into account, such as how much people exercised or other lifestyle factors. Also, the components of the vegetarian diet differed from person to person and country to country. The researchers conclude, “Further studies are needed to explore the relationships between specific foods and nutrients and blood pressure. Nevertheless, the results of the meta-analysis of the controlled trials suggest a robust relationship between consumption of vegetarian diets and lower blood pressure.”

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) from the April Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Enjoy Life More—Your Body Will Age Better, Study Shows

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A new study from the U.K. claims that people who enjoy life will have better physical function and faster walking speeds than their more pessimistic counterparts. We already know there are health benefits associated with a positive outlook on life.  A study from 2013 suggested people who have happy marriages also enjoy better physical health than couples in stressful marriages. In 2012, a study by researchers at University College London (UCL) in the U.K. found seniors who enjoy life more tend to live longer. As part of a follow-up study testing the link between happiness and physical performance, the UCL researchers have assessed the enjoyment of life of 3,199 participants aged 60 years or older.

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The participants in the study were asked to rate on a four-point scale how much they subscribed to the following statements: “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I enjoy being in the company of others,” “On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness” and “I feel full of energy these days.” Interviewing the people in the study, the researchers then assessed to what extent they had difficulty performing daily activities, such as bathing or getting dressed.  They also measured the walking speed of the participants.

The study found that people who had a low sense of well-being were more than three times as likely to experience problems in performing daily activities. “Our results provide further evidence that enjoyment of life is relevant to the future disability and mobility of older people,” says Dr. Steptoe, co-author of the study. “Efforts to enhance well-being at older ages may have benefits to society and health care systems.” Although the study recorded—perhaps unsurprisingly—that people suffering from chronic illness and lower levels of enjoyment of life, Dr. Steptoe says the link between happiness and physical health is not simply that happier people are healthier: “This is not because the happier people are in better health, or younger, or richer, or have more healthy lifestyles at the outset, since even when we take these factors into account, the relationship persists. Our previous work has shown that older people with greater enjoyment of life are more likely to survive over the next 8 years; what this study shows is that they also keep up better physical function.”

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Dr. Steptoe’s previous study found that nearly three times more people in the study group of over 50s who had low enjoyment of life and died, compared with participants who enjoyed life more. That study considered social isolation in seniors—having few hobbies or social interactions—as being a factor in a loss of enjoyment in life. It found that 1 in 6 people aged 50 and over living in England were socially isolated. But there was also a socio-economic aspect—the wealthier seniors were half as likely to become socially isolated as the less wealthy people in the study.

In the new study, people with higher socio-economic status and education were also more likely to enjoy life. Married and working people also scored higher on the happiness scale than retired or single seniors. “The study shows that older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age,” Dr. Steptoe concludes.

“They are less likely to develop impairments in activities of daily living such as dressing or getting in or out of bed, and their walking speed declines at a slower rate than those who enjoy life less.”

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) from the March Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Healthified Spinach Dip in a Bread Bowl

Healthified Spinach Dip in a Bread Bowl

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Try this healthified version of classic

Spinach Dip. Nobody will know the difference.

Ingredients:

2 boxes (9 oz each) frozen chopped spinach

1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained, chopped

1 cup chopped green onions

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves or dill weed

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/4 tsp pepper

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 lb round loaf unsliced 100% whole wheat bread

72 servings

Method

Cook spinach as directed on boxes; cool.

Squeeze water from spinach; discard water. In

large bowl, mix all ingredients except bread.

Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to blend

flavors.

Just before serving, cut 1– to 2-inch slice from

top of loaf. Hollow out loaf by cutting along edge with serrated knife,

leaving 1-inch shell, and pulling out large chunks of bread. Cut or tear

top slice and hollowed-out bread into bite-size pieces.

Place hollowed-out loaf on serving plate; fill with spinach dip. Arrange

bread pieces around loaf to use for dipping.

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Source: http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) from the February Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Eating Nuts Every Day May Prolong Life

Eating Nuts Every Day May Prolong Life

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The largest study of its kind, published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that people who eat a handful of nuts every day live longer than those who do not eat them at all. Scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health came to this conclusion after analyzing data on nearly 120,000 people collected over 30 years.  The analysis also showed that regular nut eaters tended to be slimmer than those who ate no nuts, putting to rest the notion that eating nuts leads to weight gain.

Senior author Charles S. Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues also examined how eating nuts or not related to causes of death. Prof.Fuchs says, “The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29% in deaths from heart disease—the major killer of people in America.

But we also saw a significant reduction—11%—in the risk of dying from cancer.”  The team also found that the reduced risk of death was similar for both nuts that grow on trees, such as cashews and Brazils, and peanuts, which grow under the ground. Other types of tree nut include almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. However, the data did not allow them to see whether this was also true for links to protection against certain causes of death.

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Previous studies have already shown links between eating nuts and lower risk for many diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, colon cancer and diverticulitis. Eating lots of nuts has also been associated with lower cholesterol, reductions in inflammation, oxidative stress, body fat and insulin resistance.  And while some small studies have linked higher nut consumption to lower death from all causes in certain populations, none has examined the effect in a large population in such detail over a long time.

The more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die. In this new study, the researchers examined data on 76,464 women between 1980 and 2010 who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study, and on 42,498 men from 1986 to 2010 who took part in the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study.

Participants in both cohorts filled in detailed food questionnaires every 2-4 years, and also answered questions about lifestyle and health. The food questionnaires asked the participants to estimate how often they ate nuts in a serving size of one ounce (about 28g), which is roughly the amount contained in a small packet of peanuts from a vending machine.

The researchers used sophisticated statistical tools to take out the effect of factors that might also have beneficially influenced the risk of death. For example, they found people who ate more nuts tended to be leaner, to eat more fruits and vegetables, not smoke, be more physically active, and drink more alcohol. But they were also able to take out the effects of these factors and find an independent link between nut consumption and lower risk of death.

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First author Dr. Ying Bao, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explains what they found: “In all these analyses, the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over the 30-year follow-up period.” Eating nuts less than once a week was linked to a 7% reduction in risk of death, once a week was linked to an 11% reduction, two to four times a week to a 13% reduction, five to six times a week to a 15% reduction, and seven or more times a week, to a 20% reduction.

The researchers point out that the study was not designed to examine cause and effect and so cannot conclude that eating more nuts causes people to live longer. However, they say the results are strongly consistent with “a wealth of existing observational and clinical trial data to support health benefits of nut consumption on many chronic diseases.”

Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation helped finance the study. In a large prospective study published recently in the British Journal of Cancer, researchers found eating nuts was linked to reduced risk of pancreatic cancer.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) from the February Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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